This I believe…. My three year old is wise beyond his years.
My preschooler was playing with his “baby” this morning. It was so sweet, he sat in the rocking chair and rocked it to sleep and put him down in his crib. He said “Shhh, mama, baby’s sleeping.” Later, after baby’s nap I saw Jack in my bedroom staring at himself in the mirror, he was holding the baby doll up next to his face and I could see the wheels turning in his little head. Reading his mind I asked him a question.
“Jack, are you and Baby the same or different?” He replied “We’re lots the same and we’re lots different.” Then I asked him how they were different and was very eager to hear his response. Three year olds are little sponges, they take in absolutely everything and you never know how it’s going to come back out. Jack’s baby is a dark-skinned Cabbage Patch Kid with brown hair and brown eyes. I was really surprised when he said, “My baby’s black.” He said it so matter of factly. Of course I started thinking back to all the movies he’d seen and tried to figure out where he learned that there are black people and white people. Could it have been from Uncle Joel?
Later he was playing on the couch with his baby and his little brother’s Cabbage Patch Kid, a redhead with blue eyes. I asked him what color brother’s baby’s hair is. “Orange”. And what color is Jack’s baby’s hair “Black”. And what color are brother’s baby’s eyes? “Blue”. And what color are Jack’s baby’s eyes? “Black.” That’s when I realized that my son was not referring to the modern day way we classify African-Americans when he said his baby was black. He had simply confused the colors brown and black.
In a way I was relieved. I know eventually he will see that this society is divided by the color of one’s skin, by the deity they worship, by their gender, by whom they choose to love, by how much money they make, along with whatever new social divisions are created in his lifetime. But for right now I want him to see every other child in the world as nothing less than his friend and every grown up as someone’s mommy or daddy or grandma or grandpa. When he looks at every human being on this planet I want him to see a person.
I had to ask him one last question. Which baby did he think was better? He took a few moments and looked back and forth between the two. Finally he picked up his dark-skinned baby and said “This one’s better!” And with the other arm he picked up baby brother’s redheaded baby and announced happily “And this one’s better, we’re all better!”
I believe my three year old is wise beyond his years. “We’re lots the same and we’re lots different, but we’re all better.” I know that time and society will likely challenge his young impressionable philosophy, but I hope and pray that he will grow up and teach his own children this invaluable lesson.
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